I often hear that chosing the right lawyer is difficult because most people don't ordinarily deal with lawyers in their everyday lives. Lawyer ads do little to bring clarity to the decision-making process.
Reading a blog this morning on the similarities between insurance companies and casinos, I was reminded of how many awful law firm commercials the public is subject to. If I had to watch those every day, I'd probably unwittingly adopt the negative image of attorneys that those bad ads perpetuate.
But I don't. I don't watch them and I don't believe those that I have seen provide an accurate portrayal of the legal profession. Since 2004, I have worked for and with lawyers of every type. I've learned that, like any industry, there may be a few bad apples, but they are not representative of the entire industry. My profession is committed to helping clients reach resolutions to disputes through the application of the law. Historically, that has involved referring cases to attorneys who specialize in areas that we don't – sharing cases to ensure a better outcome for the client – but in the last decade or so, one of the ways attorneys have sought out cases in their area of specialization is by advertising.
I worked for an ad agency before law school. I see the value in advertising of branding, front-of-mind awareness and target demographics. Conversely, lawyers have traditionally eschewed advertising in their efforts to brand their firms, rise to prominence and bring in new clients. Many older firms still do. Unfortunately, practicing law must be accompanied and supported by a business, a law firm. Running a business can't be done without customers, and the most effective way to reach customers is by communicating with them directly via broadcast media. More and more, firms are moving to paperless files, networking through social media and preparing electronic trial presentations. As more firms join this technological and social media age, the portrayal of our profession by the current "bad ads" on TV will be likely be eclipsed by more genuine representations of who we are: researchers, writers and orators with a working knowledge of the law and a commitment to advocating for our clients. For the sake of those watching live football and the nightly news, let's hope it happens sooner than later.